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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Long Term Effects of Birth Control

A hat tip to Freakonomics, where I first saw about this post. Our resident labor economist Martha Bailey here at Michigan presents new evidence on the long-term effects of birth control policy in the US from the 1960s and 1970s. And evidence suggests largely positive impacts decades later:
This paper assembles new evidence on some of the longer-term consequences of U.S. family planning policies, defined in this paper as those increasing legal or financial access to modern contraceptives. The analysis leverages two large policy changes that occurred during the 1960s and 1970s: first, the interaction of the birth control pill’s introduction with Comstock-era restrictions on the sale of contraceptives and the repeal of these laws after Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965; and second, the expansion of federal funding for local family planning programs from 1964 to 1973. Building on previous research that demonstrates both policies’ effects on fertility rates, I find suggestive evidence that individuals’ access to contraceptives increased their children’s college completion, labor force participation, wages, and family incomes decades later.
If you are willing to generalize results elsewhere, this is a blow to those who say the controversial Reproductive Health Act will have zero or no effect in the Philippines. Time will tell on this one.

(Disclaimer: I have yet to read the full paper)

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